Friday, December 25, 2009

Just Couldn't Wait Until Sunday for This One

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

Christmas Eve. I know, I know, it’s not Sunday morning, but it’s almost 11 p.m. on a night of miracles old and new.

What better time to write, huh?

Spent the evening with my cousin Lori, dining at a nearby Mexican restaurant to get my holiday fix of tamales (not bad, not as good as those the Acevedos from across the street used to bring each Christmas morning for Mom, Dad and me to scarf down in 60 seconds).

It was the companionship and conversation that made tonight one of those miracles one shouldn’t ignore. So many gifts come our way this time of year (after all I wrote about that last week), but it’s truly the miracles right under our noses that I’ll never get over.

Lori and I have an ongoing joke. I say “I love you.” She replies, “I love you more.” I say, “No, I doubt that.” She says, “I don’t” and we carry on until we say that this is a disagreement that will never be solved.

Lori is my hero for so many reasons, and that’s why, through my blog, I get to say “I love you more” and she can’t reply. So there, Lori!

Here’s why she’s my hero: There’s a lot of adversity in her life that would make weaker souls crumble. I’m not as strong as her by a long shot.

Yet she’s there for me whenever doubts overtake me, when I need a sounding board to vent some aggravation, to say it’s all right for me to be focused on myself as I experience changes I don’t understand.

I’ve carried a load of guilt about this encroaching self-centeredness, and expressed that to her tonight. And she said it was all right.

Though I’m not completely convinced, mind you, but I have come to realize that one must understand oneself to clear the way to benefit others … and having loved ones like Lori helps me keep on track. With her as inspiration, I’m finding my way.

I’m grappling with some spiritual issues that have kept me searching harder than I have ever done to find answers. We all face these issues sometime in our lives…and the questions just keep coming for me right now.

I’ve been given glimpses of answers, mere wisps of clarity, enough to convince me that we’re not supposed to have all the puzzle pieces at once.

“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” goes the refrain from a U2 song, and I have to agree…but what happens when you do?

Of late, I’ve been attending a local church, don’t know why, maybe to see if there were some answers there. What I did find was a warm bunch of folks, not unexpected, since churches are big-hearted communities of those who gather in His name.

I was also looking for peace, a timeout from the hubbub my psyche is going through with so many changes taking place of late. The little sanctuary was a nice start to finding some answers, and did provide some peace.

Though I found some alignment with some of my own beliefs, questions still call, particularly about “faith.”

That’s tough to comprehend, I’ve come to accept. Faith is faith, don’t overthink it, just trust that it is and will always be a refuge.

I’ve found a bit of that refuge at a tiny “adoration” chapel at the Catholic church near my home. This quiet space calms my soul, a perfect place for quiet, mind-clearing meditation. I stopped in, quite spur of the moment on my way home from Lori’s tonight.

Sitting in the silence of the chapel has a profound effect on me, no denying that. I’m moved to the point of tears most times – and why is that? Am I such an emotional basketcase that I have to seek solace there? Is it because my heart is open? Is some spirit working a miracle in me? That’s almost too dramatic for me to comprehend … why me? It could be all of those things, and finally, why not me?

I know that I’ve been touched by the divine – let’s just put it out there, by God – several times in my recent past. I don’t understand these occurrences; maybe it’s not for me to do so. Just accept … accept pure faith, unadulterated by man’s interpretations of the divine, of God.

One of those divine taps on the shoulder is Lori...a gift to my life.

Maybe that’s the miracle tonight – faith, and the love that goes hand in hand with it, is all I need right now at this moment.

It’s 11:57 p.m., three minutes til Christmas Day and the long ago miracle that promises so many miracles to come.

With that, I wish you all faith, love and all the blessings your lives can hold.

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thank God for Everyday Gifts

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

It’s the weekend before Christmas – and yes, I’ve got plenty of finishing up on some gifts and such, but I’m not stressing…some of those gifts may be delivered a week after the Big Day. I’ve got the week off between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and that will be plenty of time to finish up. They’ll still be gifts, no matter when they’re delivered.

Really folks, shouldn’t we break out of the focus on just one day and try to spread the joy throughout the year with unexpected random acts of kindness, little gifts strewn like twinkle lights from January to December?

Generosity shouldn’t have a timeline, not keyed to birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Chanukah, whatever. Gifts of a smile to a troubled person (and listening, really listening as they vent their pain), picking up the tab for tea because conversation is so precious, a surprise visit to a loved one or a long, deep conversation on the phone, sharing the world’s great art with a young one … those are treasures we cannot measure.

I’ll admit that I’m sounding very philosophical right now. I get this way like lots of folks as one year approaches conclusion and the new year brings so much promise. Hell, even Sting said the winter is a time of retrospection on this morning's "CBS Sunday Morning" profile about him and his latest CD.

I find myself saying that I look forward to the first week of January more than I do to Christmas. And I get scolded by folks for being willing to give away the next two weeks and not live each day fully. Pardon me, but I like looking forward to good things and a new year is one of those for me.

I’ll still live each day until Jan. 1 fully, I assure you, but I also look forward to closing the book on 2009.

Though this year has been a revelation for me in so many ways – a whole new circle of wonderful friends I’ve mentioned in this blog, an enriched creativity that I’m still not sure where it will take me, and a greater calm than I’ve never experienced before – I look forward to taking all of that into 2010 to continue this journey I’m on.

I hope you all receive the gifts I’ve been given this year – love of family, friendship, creativity, calm. These and others are not assigned to be given on any specific day, thank God. We get to enjoy them every moment of each day.

Love to you all!

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"The Voice" is on the radio, finally!

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

Yesterday, I felt like I was in an episode of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, because I, too, am now co-hosting a radio show.

The show is hosted by Deborah, the owner of the Village Book Shop in the Glendora Village, on, “the Voice of the Valley,” and a tiny Internet radio station with God knows how many listeners. The show airs Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m., and was to kick off officially yesterday. Here’s the station’s home page where you can click “listen live”:

I admit, I was sorta excited. See, when I was in high school, a friend nicknamed me “The Voice,” urging me to pursue a radio career. I was flattered to get such a cool nickname; too bad I was too shy to follow through on his suggestion and opted for a print journalism career, as many of you know.

Of course, an email went out yesterday morning to family and friends that “The Voice” was actually going to be on the air, to invite them to listen to this first show, and to be gentle in their “constructive criticism” afterward. Hey, that’s the only way you get better, right?

I was feeling good about overcoming a bit of stage, er, mic fright in doing this show. Deb and I did a test run of it last week, after she literally shanghaied me into the studio when I happened by the bookstore just before she headed across the street to the studio. Come along, she said, we’ll just be chatting about what the show would be like.

Right – now I’m a co-host, but I admit this will be fun after all. And would’ve been fun yesterday, until the rains came.

Now you have to understand that California has not experienced rain storms of this force, chill, and duration for half a decade or more. As you can imagine, it’s been pretty dramatic around here. The downtown Christmas Parade was canceled, local restaurateurs were stuck with extra supplies to feed expected post-parade crowds. But the torrents at about 9 a.m. nixed all that.

So I’m on my way to pick up our in-studio guest, Russ, whose company of players, the Route 66 Radio Theater, is staging a radio drama of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol next weekend at the bookstore.

Oh, we had it all figured out. I would interview Russ about the show, and I even sent my questions Friday night to brief him so he’d be ready. Then Deborah would talk about her book picks for the week. We were ready.

On my way, I get a call from Deborah telling me the station is “down” because of the rain – something about old GTE phone lines and such. I just had to laugh – the invincible Internet at the mercy of a few raindrops. Just goes to show ya! California cannot handle rain.
Welcome to A Cathie Home Companion, where anything can happen, and usually does. Ya gotta just laugh. The absurdity of it just makes me smile.

And there’s always next week, God willing and the creeks don’t rise (or the water crests over the curbs along Glendora Avenue).

I really believe this will be a great show, because Deb is doing some amazing things at the bookstore. Just as Garrison Keillor has surrounded himself with creative folk of all kinds, Deb has done the same. She has a way of finding details about everyone who walks into her bookstore, and adds them to her circle of fascinating friends who all have a story to tell whether through a workshop or a performance or a lecture at the bookshop. She has surrounded herself with a fascinating group of freinds, and each will make an interesting interview for the show. I can't wait to introduce you to them all.

I hope you’ll listen in sometime…and be gentle with your “constructive criticism,” please.

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Santa Monica Memories with Amanda

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

It’s been a marvelous weekend, starting with Thanksgiving full of good food, great company, heart-to-heart sentiments, and all you ever need and all that you can’t leave behind – love.

My god-daughter Amanda has been visiting since Thanksgiving and will be picked up by her parents this morning before church. They’re due any minute.

Amanda is 14, just the right age to be a little sister, a girlfriend, someone to hang with. And we did a lot of that last item this weekend.

She’s really good company, got a great sense of humor, and is comfortable sharing some stuff from her life with me as she would with a big sister. I hope she’ll always feel that comfort with me – her nina, co-madre, co-mother to her own.

We were busy virtually the two days she was with me, starting with a visit to Santa Monica Pier, now celebrating its centennial and I celebrate the part it played in my childhood after my folks and I moved from Kent, Ohio, in 1962.

When we first moved here, our closest relatives were my Uncle Wayne, Aunt Martha and my cousin Jackie, who lived in Hollywood. That in itself was glamorous to us mid-Western émigrés. And they slowly showed us the pleasures of living on the left coast.

One of those was trips to Santa Monica and its pier that featured a covered carousel (that same carousel “starred” in The Sting – you’ll see it in the opening shots before scenes when Robert Redford – sigh – seeks Paul Newman’s help – another sigh). The pier was old back in the 1960s, rickety old, with tacky souvenir stores and carnival food purveyors. Of course there were the perquisite bumper cars. Below is a photo of the pier, circa the 1960s.

There was one shop that Jackie and I LOVED. It was a huge warehouse that sold plaster-of-Paris knick-knacks that we painted with whatever artistic skill we possessed. Our favorite purchase, though, were tiki charms we painted and strung onto lanyard cord as necklaces. Tikis were the hot ticket along with puka shell necklaces and such – because surfers wore them and looked so cool.

When we were kids, Jackie and I enjoyed another beach attraction, Pacific Ocean Park, aka P.O.P – as in P-OH-P (the color photo below). P.O.P opened in 1958 and lasted only until 1967 when it was closed to pay back taxes. In between, its roller coaster and whirlpool ride terrified me (every time I rode it!).

Today, Santa Monica Pier is a bit more sanitized. The carousel is still there, operating like usual, and the bumper cars have been replaced by smaller versions. And P.O.P. is there in spirit with the Pacific Park amusement rides – a much smaller roller coaster than P.O.P.’s and a nice Ferris wheel that I just had to ride on Friday.

Now, apparently, Amanda doesn’t like heights and hung on to the center pole of our gondola when we first took off. But then she got busy taking photos of herself and of me (the picture at the right is her, with the Ferris wheel as a halo -- just call her Santa Amanda de Santa Monica).

We intended to stick around for another ride after dark, but there was a storm brewing inland and the winds at the pier approached gale force, making walking very difficult, and the chill factor was teeth-chattering. We couldn’t stick it out, and left right after sunset.

It was a nice check-in visit for me to see how my beloved pier was doing. There are more itinerant artists hawking their talents – caricaturists, oil-pastel portraitists and even sculptors who will mold your likeness in clay … for $15! Such a deal and quite good, actually.

I miss the old plaster-of-Paris store, Sinbad’s restaurant, Moby’s Dock (replaced by a Bubba Gump’s Shrimp House), but there are still the tacky souvenir stands and carnival cuisine. And oh yes, the restrooms are a lot nicer than they were when I was a kid.

It was nice introducing Amanda to this part of my childhood and I look forward to sharing more of my life’s memories with her. We’re going to have lots of fun in 2010, and there will surely be another trip back to that Ferris wheel some warm night!

I hope you all will do the same.
Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Giving thanks for so many things

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

It’s that time of year to give thanks, and I’ve got plenty of gratitude to share. What follows is just a very short list, and not at all complete.

Family – It constantly amazes me how rich my life is thanks to family members who are there for me in all the ways they can. There’s my cousin in Orange who is my hero in so many ways, teaching me lessons whether she knows it or now. There’s our cousin and my aunt who live in Glendora with their family and I am privileged to have them consider me family. And to see her children, my niece and nephew, growing up these past four years has provided treasured memories!

Friends – There’s an ever-enlarging circle of friends, thanks to all the folks I’ve met through activities at the downtown bookstore and the guitar store where I enjoy free concerts each Saturday morning. There’s an angel, and she knows who she is, who always brings a sense of calm to me, no matter how harried I am. Another friend encourages me to be creative when so many others have not, really believing in my talents and not afraid to say so. Another one really makes me think deeply, is a wonderful editor when I need one, and mothers us all.

Of course, these new friends enhance the already rich group of close friends who have seen me through life’s joy and sadness, triumphs and defeats, laughter and tears…you all know who you are and I love you as deeply as I do my family.

One pleasure I’ve thoroughly enjoy is finding friends on Facebook. Say what you will about technology being impersonal and all, but it has been exciting to see how high school classmates are doing, to reconnect with college newspaper staffers, and to check in on dear friends with whom I’ve lost touch because busy lives get in the way. One in particular is pursuing her dream and reports from the classroom…counting down the days when she picks up her degree…and it’s only a few now. She’s one of my inspirations!

Art – music, writing, poetry, visual, performance, I am blessed by them all thanks to the many creative folks who share their gifts with me and inspire me to tap my arts, too.

Creativity – As I mentioned in last week’s entry, I’m experiencing a creative rebirth that has shook me to my soul emotionally while freeing me to explore so many paths I thought I would never take. Again, it is family and friends who encourage me, push me, and make me believe that I should at least make the effort to express myself.

Home – I’m slowly shaping up this place so I may share it with folks again. This home was the scene of many gatherings and I’d like to get it back to that point. A major victory was reclaiming and redoing my former bedroom into a guestroom, which I invite you all to use. There’s much to be done – cleaning out my office/studio/craftroom/workshop so I may set up an easel to paint again, reclaiming garage room turned storeroom so it may become what my dad built it to be – a living room in every sense of that word.

Four-Footed "Family" and Jazz: Can't forget my pets – Dickens, Cali, Georgia and Jazz the parrot – who all make my house a home in their gentle way.

Options – I have so many from which to choose. And I’m blessed with a simple life that allows me to consider options that others may not be able to assess.

Health – I’m experiencing some improvement in my sore knees thanks to weight loss, exercise and better food choices. Beside those sore knees and my weight, I’m fairly healthy, not plagued by so many maladies others face.

A Simpler Life – I’ve learned in the past few months, it doesn’t take much to get rid of the crud that distracts. What remains is a vacuum you can fill with what you want. It’s that simple. Getting there takes a lot of attention and it’s tough to stay on the path you choose. But once simplicity has entered your life, you want to pare down the excess just a bit more. Once you start, the rest is just gravy.

So start ladling some into your life! It’s a rich, deeply satisfying choice.

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Casting about in The Universe

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

Some say that The Universe provides, if you “just put it out there.” The Universe, God, Allah, Yahweh, whoever, a higher power, whatever.

I’ve long been a cynic about such things, a pragmatist who seeks concrete explanations for the unexplainable. Hello!? I was a journalist for almost 20 years, more than 25 years if you count my college work. But these past few months have been convincing enough that maybe I shouldn’t be so cynical.

For various reasons, there has been a sea change in my life, and I’m starting to buy into some concepts that seemed too ethereal, indefinable for me to hang my star.

For many reasons, I should be more worried about “things” than I am right now. In the past, many have observed I “played the movie to the end” to anticipate any unfortunate outcome. I admit I’ve dreaded the proverbial “dropping of the other shoe” as I enjoy good times, good fortune.

Though some of that dread is still there, it has considerably diminished. I can’t tell you why specifically, but I’m more at peace now than I have been for years.

Maybe the Universe is tapping me on the shoulder to say “Relax, for God’s sake!”

Until recently, I stayed pretty much to myself, preoccupied with what was a small world – work, home, visits with family on the weekends, work, home, etc.

That all changed early in the summer due to a vacuum that opened in my life that The Universe, God, The Great Who- or Whatever filled right away.

I was yanked from that little world. A constantly expanding circle of friends – writers, artists, singers, amazing musicians, small business owners, faith-full folk, teachers – was put into my life for a reason, inspiring it immeasurably.

My life has been graced by live music each Saturday morning at the local guitar store, great ideas shared at the village book shop, compelling images offered by artists – all showing me there is so much to life to ENJOY, and not to worry about.

I’m exploring a rebirth of my artistic side – drawing in pastel chalks, thinking about picking up a paintbrush again, and attempting to write fiction. The last is something I’ve always doubted I could do since I’m a “reporter” who can only write what I see. One of those new friends pointed out to me that many great fiction writers started with what they knew – their own experiences. So, yes, why not me?

Relax, for God’s sake – yes, God or The Universe, I’m listening. I don’t have any other explanation for this calm that has taken over my soul. That is the ultimate gift: These friends – their life stories, views and talents – touch and enrich my own.

So I’m casting my line into The Universe, “putting it out there” looking forward to what I reel in.

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

P.S. There's a sign hanging outside on my patio, where it seemed most appropriate before. In streamline moderne script, in my favorite color turquoise, it reads "Relax." I'm bringing that inside my home, hanging it in my kitchen so it reminds me every day to just "relax, for God's sake!"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Our own Fountain of Youth in the wrinkles of the mind

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

I am so lucky to have as a friend a 99-year-old woman. Whenever I see her, I’m reminded what a treasure she is in my life.

Grace is my friend Frank’s mother, and I should accept his offers for dinner more often for two reasons 1) he’s an excellent chef, and I learn so much as I watch him prepare our meal – one of my favorite desserts is vanilla ice cream, sprinkles of instant coffee crystals topped by brandy (a Julia Child creation!) , 2) and then there’s Grace.

So aptly named is this woman. She’s tiny, like you expect a 99-year-old to be. Because of a fall last year, she now uses a walker to get around their home. Previous to that, she used a cane, but she’s doing just fine with the walker. Nothing, and I mean nothing, keeps her down.

I’ve known her for a very long time and she’s one of those people who makes you feel that you’re the treasure in her life. I love our conversations on so many topics – politics gets her fired up, family members I don’t know spark opinions, and then there are those cherished memories of the past that take me along with her.

She’s a vivid storyteller, and I doubt I can do justice to the tale she shared last Wednesday.

At a holiday party for the employees of the bank where she worked as a young woman, there was a definite line of demarcation between the strata of a bank – bank officers didn’t mingle with lowly non-bank officers. And the officers’ wives sounded like a snooty bunch of biddies, who really didn’t want to associate with employees, and wishing they didn’t have to be at the party.

So there was this one bank officer, not sure what his position was, but he had made quite a name for himself as a football hero in college. Tall, handsome, and a genuinely nice guy, according to Grace. He didn’t fall in line with the other officers’ officious ways when it came to employees, preferring to treat them as equals.

Somehow, this banker asked Grace for a dance – I’m a little confused as to the circumstances leading up to the invitation, and there was something about the grousing wives not wanting to dance with their husbands because they didn’t want to be at the party.

Whatever, Grace and this banker danced a waltz, and I’m not sure, but I think she left Frank and me at the dinner table to take a precious trip back in time as she described that wonderful dance.

Her face simply glowed, and I swear she became that young woman again right in front of us. That memory of him asking her to dance and guiding her along the waltz became a deep drink from the fountain of youth.

Her hands danced, sweeping the air in waltz time as she described the scene – them gliding along the dance floor while officers’ wives clucked disapprovingly as the bank officer dared to dance with an employee – God forbid!

I almost got the impression she had a bit of a crush on the guy, but such a thing was so “not done” in those times. So there was just this friendly, harmless waltz between two friends … that is now a dear memory loop for a 99-year-old woman that took her listeners along with each measured step.

So students, what’s the lesson here? Forget Ponce de Leon’s quest for that legendary fountain. Cherish memories, keep them close. Resurrect lost friends and loved ones, keep the mind active as you grasp those glimpses “just right,” and enjoy, for just a moment, a deep swig from the fountain of youth.

I’m ready for a dose – how about you?

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

Sunday, November 1, 2009

U2, you shoulda been there! You still can ...

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

So last weekend, I had a legitimate reason not to plop down in front of the computer to recount the previous week…the long-awaited (since May 1, for crissakes!) U2 360° Tour Concert at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl.

After much consternation    about who would join me on this musical mystery tour, my cousin Jackie accompanied me. That’s her with me in this photo taken by nice new friends we made at the concert (thanks Doug!).

The concert started at 7, we hit the road from Glendora at 2 p.m. to take advantage of the shuttles from Pasadena City College. We got to the RB in no time and started our trek to Gate F, closest to section 18 where our seats were.

We both noticed an amazing “vibe” for want of another word – calm, peacefulness, just like a family reunion where you’re seeing people you haven’t seen in years. The only thing was we all were only related by our love for U2, its message of love, peace, freedom, faith. A palpable kindness shown to me, almost embarrassing, but very sweet and generous.

Gates opened at 5:15 or so, still no rush to get to our seats…let the others rush in. We went in and the first thing we partook was a very overpriced Bud Light…tasted so good at that point! And just sitting there, chatting up other fans seated nearby – everyone sharing this very unique experience.

Jackie and I shared our memories of concerts past – Jimmy Buffett in his Margaritaville days, Kenny Loggins, etc., and it meant so much that she was there to share this very special day with me. We were so close growing up, sharing our love for music throughout, and this was just another memory to add to this precious relationship.

So, the concert … I can only say that it exceeded my very simple expectations of just living in the moment and letting the sound and experience wash over me. And talk about a workout! I was sitting and standing all the time … overwhelmed by the sound, excitement, communal thrill that U2 creates. This would be our Woodstock (shared with an estimated 96,000) – without the rain and mud.

Yes, my inner rocker chick was released that night.

There are so many hits, anthems aplenty, that it did just blur for me, and that’s not a bad thing. Such experiences should be that way, really, to carry memory of it forward seamlessly. It’s the heart, the love, the warmth, the kindness, the music, the warmth of those all around us that I’ll always cherish of that day.

Also, for the first time in my concert-going life, I was able to relive the show the next day thanks to the Internet. In preparation of a DVD set that was being filmed that night, streamed the concert live. Of course, the broadcast offers close-ups we never saw, emotions we only peeked at on the huge round screen over the stage, but the music – that’s what I’m still listening to from the download I made. I’ve heard tons of concert recordings, most never measure up to a band’s talent. Not so this one … it’s so thrilling to listen to just the music from this show – it’s really that good.

So as you can see, I’m still buzzed from this experience, something I’ll carry for a long time. And I recommend to everyone to find that webcast and download it (took me 7 hours, but it was well worth it!) from ROCK ON!

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The flu, SAD, and healing music

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

This will be a shorter discourse than usual. Got to get ready to go off to the Industry Hills Charity Pro Rodeo to volunteer in the ticket booth and check in any news media folks. I’m there for an hour, then home and then Dickens and I can head downtown to grab a cup of coffee and do some serious reading.

This is the first morning in about a week that I haven’t awaken with body aches, headache, some flu-like symptoms. Maybe that’s what I had after all. And I’ve got a dr’s appt. on Tuesday and she’ll probably give me the flu shot. Hmmm...not sure if I’ll have a relapse.

I’m going on the record here and say I hate this time of year. Shorter sunlight days, too many loved ones lost in these months, I just hate this time. It just sucks. I wake up, it’s dark; I leave the office, it’s dark...I get home and all I want to do is get my pajamas on and go to 7:30-8 p.m.!

I definitely hibernate. At least I know there are millions like me who suffer from SAD, an appropriate acronym for seasonal attitudinal dysphoria...we all need more sunshine, that’s the basics, and there are light bulbs for that purpose. I think this is the year I’m getting some...something’s gotta help.

A psychic medium I know suggested that I meditate to get through this time, to turn the negative into positive energy...I don’t know, maybe that could work. Right now, I just hate this (and having written that a couple times now has helped, weirdly).

Cali and Georgia (that's them in the pastel chalk portrait I drew this summer, at right) are sleeping indoors at night now – too cold outside for them and I just love that they’re home at night. And Dickens enjoys curling up next to the small of my back, a nice little heating pad for a sore back.

Yesterday was busy with the morning concert at Strings, the psychic medium reception at Village Book Shop and then a short visit to Blues-a-palooza where Stan West was performing at The Fret House. Despite the many steps downstairs to where his concert was, it was a real treat to hear him rip into some classic blues and rock amazing talent. I just love how music has re-entered my life the last few months through Strings and all the musicians I’ve met there. It has all been very restorative, and I just want more.

Oh yes, I just also want to say how proud I was that President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. And I’m proud that my mother country Norway recognized his efforts to bring the world together with an obviously open heart. Those Norwegians are so darn smart! ;-)

That’s all for now...gotta get ready for the Rodeo! Today’s entry wasn’t the most profound writing, but again, I’m just trying to clear some cobwebs from last week to get set for next.

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Clarion memories, county fair fun

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:

There are so many things to write about this morning. Fall is finally here with much lower temperatures, now in the low 60s, but we’ll probably have a week of Indian summer, one last burst of heat before we finally “fall.”

Item #1: Staff mates of mine from the Citrus College Clarion started weighing in through e-mails on the slide of photojournalism into paparazzi-ism this week, and the vault of memory opened up for all of us. Adding to this walk down memory lane were photos scanned and posted by Ken (W. Holme) and Barbie (Slough), staff photogs who chronicled all that happened in the newsroom.
So many surprises came through these e-mails, too many to detail here, but the most brilliant was Chuck Nigash signing on as the late brilliant RN Owen, who weighed in our chatter with his usual cynical, cigarette-fueled, uber-dry wit. Chuck captured all of the Owen-ness perfectly, and brought back so many memories of those crazy times when just us kids got to put out a newspaper.

One other surprise came in those photos. As I looked at myself in some of them, a couple of which are posted this morning, I’m surprised how slim I was. Now understand that at that time, I thought I was fat, always conscious of my weight. But ya know, I looked all right! And my hair was seriously long, curling into ringlets at the ends. Surely that self-consciousness about my supposed “weight” kept me back and injured my self-esteem. I like to think I’ve pretty strong in the esteem department, but that’s the one area that just doesn’t get put away in a box. Just think what could’ve been without that albatross around my neck. Oh well. The past is past, use it as a reminder and then move on, dammit!

Item #2: Went to the LA County Fair with my fair-going friend Frank Clark, the late summer ritual I thought had passed me by because of my arthritic knees. We arrived about 2:45 and my knees started hurting about 6 p.m. and that probably wouldn't have been an issue if I had remembered to take my anti-inflammatory meds at 4;30 like I should've. But walking was pretty pain free, slow, a bit stiff, but OK. I sat down when I needed to and that gave Frank and me a chance to gab about the Clarion staff emails from the week. As he and I talked, we filled in blanks for each other. That was really nice.

It's just so much fun people-watching at the Fair -- the lady who NEVER stopped smiling as she demonstrated a purse "system" where you can slap on an exterior "shell" to complement your outfit, the constant patter of food chopper and mop salesmen, and those guys who proffer that skin softener that is probably renamed and repackaged from last year's formula.

And the food is stuff you just don't normally eat -- deep-fried zucchini sticks with ranch dressing, soft-serve chocolate-vanilla cones for dessert ... that was enough for me. The weird Fair food du jour this year was chocolate covered bacon strips -- bacon fried up nice and crisp, frozen, then dipped in chocolate -- all I can say is "eeeeuwwww" -- just couldn't try that one.

The Fair excursion has put my mind at ease about going to see U2 at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 25. There will be a lot of walking to get to my seats, almost a third of the circumference of the stadium from the gate where I’ll be dropped off from the parking shuttle. But I think I’ll make it just fine...come hell or high water. And now I’m at peace about it all, and really looking forward to it all.

Enough for now. Got some chores that need my attention before I can really relax into this cool, crisp, gorgeous Sunday day.

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Welcome to Sunday Morning Muse

Dear Blog, friends, family, anyone who chances upon this entry:
This will be the first of what I hope will be many Sunday mornings as I clear out the cobwebs of the previous week and look forward to the next.

I’ve just sent my goddaughter Amanda off to church with her folks Rosalinda and Rod, after a visit that started Friday night. I’m constantly reminded “how time flies” as I watch this young lady grow up – even though “young lady” makes her sound older than her near-14 years (her next birthday is Oct. 5, a date she shares with her Mom Rosalinda, who is actually her great-grandmother…another story for a future entry).

I’m so very flattered that Amanda still thinks it’s fun to visit me, since I’m afraid I’m not cool enough, but maybe she just enjoys a little change in her routine. She just tags along with me as I go about to my weekend plans – whatever’s happening in downtown Glendora on Friday night, the Saturday morning acoustic guitar concert at the downtown guitar store, dinner at my aunt&cousins’ house Saturday night.

So I hope we’ll be able to do these visits once a month and maybe switch up the activities – we’ll have to skip October though because the weekend I’d like her to visit is the weekend I’ll be seeing U2 at the Rose Bowl, and I need to “save my knees” for that show.
So, saving my knees means I’ve got arthritis in both, which slows me down most days, is painful some days (it’s getting better because I exercise at a swimming pool 3-4 times a week after work), stiff most of the time.

That concert will be a major test for me – it will entail a lot of walking. I’ll have to walk around about a third of the Rose Bowl to get to my very expensive seats (18 rows up from the field, just north of the 50 yard line, with a clear view of the left side of the huge U2 stage), but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let those knees keep me from seeing Bono and Band. I’ve upped my workouts to strengthen them for this task, and I know there will be pain, but I’m going to do this. This is just one step, pardon the pun, to proving my strength and resolve and will be a major victory, no matter how much I hurt the week after.

So I guess this blog will be about the things that cross my mind as I write. More thoughts about last week…

I’m working very hard to stay within my budget, so it was a bit of a moment when my dog Dickens, a 15-year-old Chihuahua that had been my late mother’s, started bleeding from his seriously bad teeth. I haven’t had his teeth cleaned since he’s got some kind of heart murmur and vets have told me that he could die under anesthetic, but that all changed Friday when the vet said he’d die from the infection he had…so under anesthetic he went, had several teeth pulled and a thorough cleaning…and survived, thank God.

I got an uncomfortable preview of what it will be like when he leaves me permanently. Friday afternoon had a palpable “empty” feeling without him here. Funny, how a little animal can become a part of your life so completely.

He’s still recovering from what most adult humans would take a week to cope with, and has very few teeth left, but much fresher breath…and now I can “brush” his teeth weekly to protect what he has left.

It’s so good to have him home; our little world is renewed.

So …next week…I look forward to getting back to the pool after a week off (but surprisingly, I’ve experienced just a little pain in the knees – just need to sit down when I need to). I hope to put them to the test out at the LA County Fair before it closes next weekend…it’s supposed to get cooler than the 100+ temperatures we’ve had the last couple of weeks – drop down into the 80s, which will be simply wonderful!

The Fair is a step back into childhood, yet this time it will test my very adult issue of arthritis. But I look forward to seeing how it all works out…it could be great and fun or it could suck and hurt a lot, but at least I’m accepting the challenge…I just don’t want to let arthritis keep me from doing anything.

So on that note folks, I’m signing off, and looking forward to next week, and next Sunday’s Morning Muse. Hope your week ahead is all that you want it to be.

Thanks for checking in on me – Cathie Lou